Free Soda Refills Banned in France

Free Soda Refills Banned in France

People who live in France won’t be able to take their paper cups to the soda machine for free refills anymore under a ban aimed at decreasing obesity in the country. [1]

Getting people to consume less soda isn’t as easy as it sounds. Earlier in January, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released fresh numbers showing that after years of Americans decreasing their sugary beverage consumption, rates have stalled well above the recommended limits, suggesting that mere warnings about the health risks of sugar haven’t worked.

Some cities and towns have taken the fight against obesity into their own hands, like Berkeley, California, which implemented a soda tax in the spring of 2016. By September 2016, lower-income residents had cut their consumption of sugary beverages by 21%.

The sugary drink ban in France went into effect on 27January 2017. Under the order, hotels, restaurants, and school cafeterias may no longer have soda fountains. The country has already ordered a spate of health initiatives, including a soda tax of its own and, in schools, a ban on vending machines and a limit on the servings of french fries to once a week. [2]

The move is in line with recommendations set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has urged countries to tax sugary beverages to fight obesity. The WHO presented data last year on the benefits of such a tax.

The Japanese government has taken a much more forceful approach to fighting obesity by requiring companies and local governments to measure the waistlines of people ages 40 to 74, and encouraging them to exercise.

In Mexico, a 10% surcharge was added to sugary drinks in 2014 to address shockingly elevated levels of diabetes there. After one year, sales of sugary drinks fell as much as 12%, while purchases of bottled water rose 4%.

The overall obesity rate in France is low – 41% of women and 57% of men between the ages of 30 to 60 were obese or overweight – leaving some citizens feeling put-upon by the government. [1]

Said one 21-year-old French man:

“Each person has to take responsibility. Restaurants might as well put scales in front of each fast-food joint.” [2]

What do you think? Are you in favor of or against such measures where you live?


[1] Time

[2] The New York Times